The Amazing Spider-Man #5 (2018)

I’m seriously in love with this book, due in part to a whole lot of bias.

#spoilers

So Peter makes a final attempt to convince Spider-Man to rejoin him by way of the isotope genome accelerator before they both give out and die. Pete swindles Boomerang into burgling the machine and takes off with it. There’s a long conversation where Peter talks it out with Spidey, he ends up saving the web-spinner’s life when a giant robot attack breaks out, and, while he’s distracted, activates the accelerator and they become one again.

The newly reformed Spider-Man summons his “spider-bot” Tri-Sentinel and crushes the masses of robots before discovering the corpse of Mendel Stromm back at his lair. The remaining robots then go on a suicide run while repeating the phrase “guess my name.” The lair is destroyed and Spider-Man is left befuddled.

I am simply in love with the direction this book has gone. It’s a little wacky and looney at times, but still has the grounded soul of the character we all love. It’s a nice breath of fresh amidst all the angst we’ve had in comics lately. Not to mention the cool third/fourth-tier characters like Stromm and Boomerang playing bigger parts.

Another particular reason I love this book is because… I’m in it! Yeah! I wrote in to Marvel after reading issue one and my letter got published! Not only that, but the photo of myself and my fiance is in there, too! SO CRAZY! We’re in a comic! After all these years the one time I actually write in a letter and it makes the cut! SUPER COOL… but I think the editors think that I’m actually her based on their reply…. but whatever! Still get to call one small slice of Spidey history our own.

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TL;DR Score: #moreKraven

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Spider-Geddon #0 (2018)

This one’s a bit of a cash grab, but it’s not too bad if you have the pennies for it.

#spoilers

The story picks up with Spidey of the new PS4 game slinging through the streets while listening to Jameson’s “Just the Facts.” Through a subtle spoiler it becomes evident this book takes place after the game, but soon enough we get big spoilers that really confirm it.

So Spidey gets a tip from MJ that there’s a crime underway being committed by someone bearing a spider symbol. Pete leaps into action and we are soon introduced to this universe’s version of the Tarantula. He’s pretty much the same as the 616 classic but with some iron-spider-like claws tacked on. In the midst of the confrontation the Superior Spider-Man appears seeking out Peter. Tarantula gets away leaving Superior Spidey to explain to PS-Spidey the whole deal with the Inheritors trying to kill Spider-men across the realities.

This is the point in which the two Spideys share identities and Pete has some serious emotions over meeting a version of Otto Octavius that turned out good (nevermind HOW, Pete, but no, go on looking through your starry eyes). Before long they agree to track down Tarantula together and once finished with him to join the fight with the other Spider-men. They do all of this and the story ends with a small breaking of the fourth wall when Pete literally coins the phrase “Spider-Geddon.”

There’s also a back-up story where the Spider-men at homebase are sending drones out to the Inheritors that ends with some heavy foreboding, but it’s nothing great apart from some funny character beats (plus I’m a sucker for more Spider-UK).

I’m not sure I’ll continue with the rest of the event. I really liked Spider-Verse, and the pin-up page at the end of the book does have me tempted, but there’s not enough going for it to me. Maybe I’m missing something since I haven’t read any prelude books, but this literally feels like a rehash. Having said that, I’m curious about what cool fan service might occur during the story, but again, is it worth my money today? I don’t know… I’ll have to gamble it off the stands and not commit it to my pull.

This book was good. It didn’t go too overboard, and it did all the right things. As a bonus story after playing through the game it was neat to see Peter interacting with the Superior Spider-Man.

Really it makes for a great premise to another game…

… I guess if you told me PS-Spidey was going to be the main character for Spider-Geddon I would be on board, because I’m still on the PS4 kick and the DLC is still a few weeks off. As it stands I’m probably gonna pass on this mini-series until it hits Marvel Unlimited or a decent paperback.

TL;DR Score: Honestly they should just do an ongoing based in the universe of PS-Spidey… Like the early years or something. THAT would be cool.

Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment (1989)

WOW. I stumbled across a juicy one here – can’t believe I hadn’t heard/read of this one until now. This book is so good… Roger Stern and Mike Mignola? MIGNOLA? Holy smokes this is good stuff.

#spoilers

The story starts with a man known as “the Aged Genghis” telling his Acolyte how he came to know both Doctor Strange and Doom in their youths. It’s a neat way to throw in some exposition that works both as never-before-heard-tales for long time readers as well as a crash course for newcomers. Afterwards the Genghis sends out a message to all the sorcerers/magic-wielders of the world (Strange and Doom inclusive) inviting them to a meeting that turns out to be the trial to dub a new Sorcerer Supreme.

Seriously? This is where it happens? I haven’t bothered to check yet, but I thought Strange attained the title of Sorcerer Supreme ages ago, but if this is actually the book where it first happened and not some odd retcon – damn. Either way it’s really cool. We get to see the forms of Agamotto, Oshtur and Hoggoth, where they combine their forces to seal the Aged Genghis, thus creating the challenge for the sorcerers to free him. The sequence is neat and the writing is superb – Stern really captures the flow of the action and the dialogue. In the end Strange comes out on top and releases the Aged Genghis, thus becoming the new Sorcerer Supreme and everyone’s all stoked and glad for him.

BUT… Strange must honor a boon to fulfill his new title, kind of like consummating a marriage. Since Doctor Doom was the only other person that didn’t fall during the contest, it’s him that Strange must answer to. Instead of some twisted plan to take the world, Doom requests Strange’s aid in freeing the soul of his mother from the clutches of Mephisto.

There’s more exposition where Doom’s servant, Boris, details Strange in the backstory of Doom’s parents and how she sold her soul to Mephisto, and finally the two venture to the Netherworld to confront the demon. Once there the book turns into a non-stop race against time as both Strange and Doom battle against the forces of Mephisto and eventually, through some deception and heartbreak, they succeed in crushing him and freeing Momma-Doom.

It’s such a great book with a pretty flawless three act structure, ever-changing but tied together perfectly. Mignola’s art really shined, especially during the Mephisto sequence, and I can’t stress enough how well-written the book is. I find it hard to stay entertained when exposition begins to dominate a story, but somehow Stern really pulled it off.

I can’t recommend this book enough, especially if anyone out there is a little rusty on Strange and Doom. It’s a great standalone story that doesn’t require much, if any, prior reading. Give it a whirl, and get lost in the adventure of it.

TL;DR Score: Best Doctor team-up since Doctor Who.

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The Death of Superman (2018)

Taking a break from the comics to start talking about that fun little medium we classify as “moving pictures,” because I gotta say, the new take on Death of Superman is pretty fantastic, arguably one of the greatest Superman movies I’ve ever seen.

#spoilers

Superman dies. WHAAAAAA-?! Obviously he does. Only people who live under a rock don’t know this fact, but if you’re a new up-and-coming comic book enthusiast: yes, once upon a time (more than once now) Superman died and it rocked the world, but now we don’t bat an eyelash when heroes, villains or anyone dies, because like as not it isn’t permanent.

Having said that, this is a damn good flick.

For those not in the know, this movie runs in the same continuity as all the DC animated movies that spun out of Flashpoint and followed most of the New 52 cues, from War to JL vs Teen Titans and beyond. If you haven’t seen them, do yourself a favor and find one of the super expensive box sets or scavenge them as singles on the web. They’re great movies to throw on just about anytime.

Having said THAT, this movie is a giant boiling pot that makes for just about the perfect iteration of the Death of Superman. It takes the original story, blends it with elements from the New 52, and sprinkles on top the charm that the film makers have come to forge with these movies – the big thing in this case being Doomsday battling the core Justice League that we’ve come to love. No hate for Booster Gold or any of the other leaguers back in the 90s, but seeing Doomsday man-handle the likes of Aquaman, Cyborg, Batman and Green Lantern adds a lot more levity to the stakes of the story. Wonder Woman’s bout was a highlight in itself (when her hair braid shattered and she went full Amazon was some fresh kind of fan service).

Superman’s arc is fresh and deep. We get to see Lois and Clark’s relationship at its adolescence and everything’s hot and exciting between them, but they’re now on the cusp of taking bigger steps in their relationship. Lois wants to meet the parents while Clark deals with the burden of sharing her in his secrets. The scene where the Justice League is holding a meeting and Superman discusses with Flash (who is himself on the cusp of marriage) the merits of sharing others in the danger is particularly good. It all falls together beautifully, right down to when Wonder Woman assures Clark to handle things with Lois while the League takes care of the incoming danger (not knowing how much help they’ll actually need).

There’s a lot of cool nods and fan service like Lex Luthor in disguise with a wig and beard, “same bat time,” “up up and away” – to say nothing of all the set ups for the follow-up “Reign of the Supermen.” It never feels forced which is nice.

The action is violent, brutal, and oh so satisfying. We get to see some things occur that would never have been fathomed for a live action depiction, certainly not in the volume they deliver it in. It’s fast, but it doesn’t let up, and you get your money’s worth. Not only is there all the lead up where Doomsday goes on a rampage, there’s his battle with the League, and then his fight with Supes that’s the biggest of the flick. So so good.

I’m also super happy that they brought back Nathan Fillion for Green Lantern, and Jason O’Mara as Batman has really come into his own for me. Not to mention Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane?… Mint. I wasn’t too big a fan of Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor, but that’s some solid star power there, too. Jerry O’Connell’s Superman was also good – a bit iffy in some cases, but as Clark Kent he really shined.

I’d have to take some serious consideration, but I would say that this is already in the Top 3 of Superman movies for me. They brought their A-Game with this one, and it has me excited to see the next movie unfold.

TL;DR Score: Seriously, if you thought Superman snapping Zod’s neck was violent… you have no idea.

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Ms. Marvel #1 (1977)

All aboard the bandwagon! The Captain Marvel trailer dropped so now it’s time to cram some of the character’s biggest hits! (Though I myself have always preferred her as Ms. Marvel, but to each their own). Let’s take a gander at her premiere solo book!

#spoilers

Produced by the grand slam team of Gerry Conway and John Buscema, this first issue has it all. It starts off fast with Ms. Marvel fighting crime, and then we see her as Carol Danvers attaining a job working under J. Jonah Jameson, where she inevitably bumps into Peter Parker and Mary Jane (gotta have a big character cameo to sell the first book, right?).

Speaking of big characters – who’s the big baddie that Ms. Marvel clashes with in her first tale? … THE SCORPION! … Really? That’s who we wanna go with? But honestly, it’s ingenious. It ties in well with Jameson, in turn tying to Carol’s blossoming career, plus it’s not so big that we’re throwing the big guns at her just yet. Start off small, but start of fun. I like it.

We also learn that Carol suffers from amnesia, which is pretty cool. It’s kinda like lycanthropy, where Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers cannot remember their respective egos. It’s something you don’t see too often in superheroes. I can only think of the Hulk as the best comparison, but it’s a little different here.

A solid first issue and a great place to start if you want to ride the bandwagon like I’m going to over the next while.

TL;DR Score: Make Mine Ms. Marvel.

Batman #497 (1993)

#spoilers?

I mean, the cover kind of gives it away, and for those who aren’t aware of Bane or his reputation… well, here you go. Bane’s the man that broke the Bat, and arguably one of the coolest members of Batman’s rogues gallery… also quite possibly the most overrated.

This particular issue takes place at the peak of the Knightfall story, after Batman has suffered at the hands of a gauntlet of his greatest foes that’s been orchestrated by Bane himself. Batman returns to Wayne Manor all but crippled (…) to find Bane waiting for him, because, did I forget to mention? Not only is Bane a man of physical prowess, he is also of keen intellect and saw the obvious: that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same. What follows is a beat down that climaxes with Bane breaking Batman’s spine and standing victorious over his mushy body.

It’s wall-to-wall action, and certainly the pivotal Bane story. Really my only disappointment with it is that it’s not a very true victory on Bane’s part. He talks so much about being greater than Batman and crushing him, but his success only comes after breaking down Batman’s spirit and stamina. Sure, it might’ve been the only way to actually best the Bat, but if a dude walks in talking about how he has the bigger muscles and brain, shouldn’t he challenge himself on equal grounds?

Either way I still love Bane and am always eager for more stories that involve him, and despite my issues this particular comic is still a classic and fun to read.

TL;DR Score: People never stop talking about how Bane broke the Bat… and neither does he… to this day…

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Spider-Man (PS4)

#SPOILERS

#MAJORSPOILERS

I flag this post with many spoilers, because I’ve been obsessively playing this game for a week now and have very nearly completed it 100%, so one last time:

#FINALSPOILER

What a stunning game – seriously. This sets a whole new bar for Spider-Man games, one that I feel Insomniac plans to keep raising in the years to follow. There’s so much about this game that exceeded my expectations. A couple nitpicks, but easily forgot in the grand scheme of things. This is a masterpiece.

Through the gate I’ll say YES, this game follows in the footsteps of the Arkham games (which I played equally obsessively for years) in the nature of its gameplay and progression, but hey, IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT, RIGHT? Insomniac caught on to that, and they struck gold.

Next up, the campaign in this game is on point. They really made a Spider-Man (possibly Marvel) universe of their own, shaking up the status quo while adhering to the mythos in the best ways. It takes place 8 years into Spidey’s career where the Kingpin is finally being brought to justice after a long tenure as the thorn in the webhead’s side. As we come to learn Spider-Man has faced a handful of his iconic rogues, but there’s been no Green Goblin or Doc Ock or anyone like that… cool stuff. I dig it. It feels very grounded, nor does it short-change the grand horizon that is the Marvel Universe. They’ve set themselves up for a Spider-Man that can actually age – like who knows, three games in we could be playing as a 33-year-old Spidey fighting somebody like Kraven for the first time…. Game 3? Kraven’s Last Hunt? YES PLEASE #moreKraven

The game is split up into three acts. The first consists of Spider-Man taking down Kingpin and the rise of Mister Negative. The second follows the prolonged struggle to stop Mister Negative, but ultimately resulting in the birth of DOCTOR OCTOPUS!?! WHAT!?!? (yes, it was spoiled months ago, but it’s still incredible that it actually happens when you play the game). The third is basically Spider-Man battling the Sinister Six to save the city from a deadly toxin that Ock unleashed.

That’s putting it briefly, but there’s so much more depth to this game. There’s Peter being Otto’s research assistant, and his relationship with MJ (who’s an investigative reporter) rekindling. There’s the origins of Miles Morales and the decline of Norman Osborn’s reign as mayor. There’s also a slew of other characters involved and voice actors that bring so much emotion and intensity I never expected from a Spider-Man game. Seriously, by the end it’s almost Academy Award-worthy. You can say what you want about everything else, but the end of the game is a hell of a spectacle that really pulls you in.

Web-slinging has never been better. The parkour flow and the rapid web-slinging from chimney to wall to parapet and so on is so smooth that once I found my sea legs it’s been the most fun I’ve had traversing the concrete canyons in any Spider-Man game. I find it a little iffy when trying to break a chain in the web-zipping to land on a rooftop without perching, but that’s about it. The combat is on point, too. There’s a plethora of gadgets and moves that, again, once played a couple days becomes quite fluid and not so imposing.

To say nothing of the customization. SO MANY COSTUMES (and more to come in DLC!). I love it. My personal favorites are Last Stand and Noir, but I like a lot of them pretty closely … though I find Spirit Spider a little weird (but nothing short of entertaining). Each costume comes with a special ability, very few of which compare to the one you start with, but still nice for the customization, especially the fact that they can be intermixed between suits.

This game is perfect (no, not perfect perfect, but the perfect we all know). It’s so good I’m trying to convince people that aren’t even Spider-Man fans to try it, because it is such a great representation of the character that I’m proud of. The thing I keep talking about is how it perfectly juggles the heart and soul of these characters while also placating to the tongue-in-cheek and bizarre (particularly the villains). It was never once cringe-worthy, which is saying something. I love Spider-Man, I do, he’s my favorite, but there’s a lot of cringing that comes with him, notably in video games. None of that whatsoever here though, and it’s awesome.

TL;DR Score: In a lifetime of Spider-Man games I was willing to classify as great for the sake of my own sanity, this is beyond being a masterpiece.

 

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Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business (2013)

Family business, written by Mark Waid and James Robinson, is a one-shot graphic novel starting the old webhead. A little under a hundred pages, it’s a fun cinematic story dealing with Peter Parker coming to meet his long lost sister, a special agent named Teresa Durand.

Long story short, it’s a race to the finish as Peter and Teresa are trying to find a Sleeper (giant nazi robots featured in Captain America) hidden in Cairo that requires the likeness of Peter’s father to control. All in the meanwhile the Kingpin is on the hunt also, but for the gold that the Sleeper is stored away with.

It’s a fun read with lots of action and classic spy scenarios that are all the more entertaining with Spidey thrown in there. The art, courtesy of Gabriele Dell’Otto and Werther Dell’Edera is something to behold. It’s got a lot of Alex Ross vibes but in a new and refreshing tone. It’s beautiful to look at.

I think it took me too long to get around to reading this, speaking as a Spideyphile, so if you’re in the same boat I’d suggest checking it out.

TL;DR Score: Spidey fighting a Sleeper? YES.

The Flash #51 (2018) – Williamson/Kolins

Flash War is over, and with some cool catalysts that set up the next chapter for the Fastest Man Alive!

#spoilers

Everything is right with world. Hunter is defeated, and everybody is trying to ease back to normality, but Wally isn’t letting it go. He keeps running in search of his lost family while Iris writes a reflection on his life (with a damn cool splash page, LOVED the Teen Titans section).

What was cool about this particular issue for me is that it finally made everything click for me in terms of the West family. I completely forgot that Wally is (correct me if I’m wrong) the same Wally from Pre-Flashpoint, and that the events of Flashpoint is what gave us Wallace – hence the two Wally’s running around (pun intended). Can’t believe I didn’t clue into that sooner considering I’m pretty sure I remember hearing about this way back, but oh well.

Long story short, Wally eventually stops running having been unsuccessful in finding his family. He ends up going with Superman and Wonder Woman to Sanctuary (part of that new DC mini-series coming up, a place that I guess is basically super-rehabilitation/therapy), and Flash has a conversation with Batman about his own final race as he overlooks the construction of the Flash Museum.

Great character book! And like I said, there’s a lot of promise with this one. There’s the issue of the different “forces” that have been agitated by Hunter, and even the looming toxicity of Wally West almost promises another War sometime in the future (in my opinion). Between this and Batman, I like the structure of DC Rebirth (not that they use that branding anymore). It feels like with issue fifties (give or take) we’re hitting a sort of “season finale”. Not so much the end of the run, but a checkpoint. I don’t know if many of the other DC titles are like this apart from Superman, but I like it. People can say what they will, because there’s always hate going around for comics these days, and there’s a lot of people that hate on DC since Flashpoint, but you can’t really deny that they’ve kept a nice structure since. Where Marvel always seems to be all over the place with nothing cohesive except a bi-annual world-ending-level event that ushers in a total overhaul company rebrand, DC takes its pace easy and delivers some really cool arcs…. Maybe I’ll write an editorial on all that sometime, back to the book.

Awesome read. If you didn’t read Flash War, worry not. It’s pretty self-contained and definitely good for those who want to start reading Flash, as I’m sure it’ll lead directly into what comes next.

TL;DR Score: I’m glad it was Barry that came out relatively alright from Flash War. I will always be a Barry Allen Flash kinda guy.

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Mr. & Mrs. X #1 (2018) – Thompson/Bazaldua

Rogue and Gambit start in their new ongoing (we’ll see if that lasts, of course) in a fun kick-start to an adventure that has it all.

#spoilers

The book begins with some heavy duty foreshadowing of an explosion in space against Rogue and Gambit’s first kiss at the altar. We then take back a step to earlier on the wedding day as everyone prepares for the last minute turn of events. All the ladies are scrounging together a perfect wedding outfit for Rogue, and at the end of it Mystique shows up… because apparently she’s Rogue’s mother!?! When the heck did that happen? I’m sorry, everybody, I’m still rusty on my X-History… but Mystique is Rogue’s mom? That explains Kurt referring to himself as her brother earlier in the book…. Man…

Anyway, so the wedding goes off smoothly and Gambit takes Rogue into deep space for their honeymoon and a whole lot of naked time, but they’re ultimately interrupted by Kitty who sends them on an urgent mission near the Shi’Ar Empire to retrieve a mysterious package of extreme interest. When the duo finds it they end up in a tussle with the Imperial Guard. In the heat of the fight Rogue ends up phasing out into space with the package, and before anybody can save her she is suddenly teleported away.

Last page we find out it’s Deadpool who has abducted Rogue, and that the package is actually some sort of egg. Obviously Deadpool makes a joke about eloping.

Solid stuff, right? I liked it. Mayhap someday, probably in like twenty years, I’ll be all caught up on X-Men and not find myself running into all these weird surprises and instead totally understand every little reference, but I still enjoyed the book. I can see myself continuing with it as an ongoing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends before long or at the very least gets a re-brand. Either way I hope the marriage sticks. The note from writer Kelly Thompson at the end of the book seems to imply it will, but you never know with comics, right?

TL;DR Score: Mystique. Is. Rogue’s. Mom? WHAT THE-!?

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